Facing declining local property tax rolls, schools are struggling to find cash, a situation that may pit special education against general education interests in some areas.

In Detroit, Mich., which has been especially hard hit by falling property values, several school districts are uncertain where money will come from to meet their special education obligations. That’s because unlike most education services, special education is federally mandated so schools are not allowed to cut back on needed services even if money is tight.

Currently one county in the Detroit area which is in a particularly dire situation already has a shortfall of $150 per student and officials say there’s no indication of when things will improve. Meanwhile, federal stimulus funds, which provided a large two-year financial boost to special education programs, are ending.

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As a result, some school officials say they may have no choice but to divert funds from general education, which are intended for teacher salaries, textbooks and other services in mainstream classrooms, reports the Detroit Free Press. To read more click here.